I witnessed perfection.
I got a last-minute invitation to watch a NASA rocket launch. So, my wife and I drove to Vandenberg Air Force Base, north of Los Angeles. We joined a small group of NASA and SpaceX guests, standing on a bluff, about 6 miles from the launch pad.
The Falcon 9 spacecraft was in its final countdown. Not many people have experienced SpaceX’s re-useable rocket booster launch into space, then return back to the landing pad. Once thought impossible…or crazy.
The mission is a collaboration between NASA and SpaceX. Turns out they’re partners, more than competitors. Together, they launched a satellite that will orbit 800 miles above earth and measure sea level changes from space – accurate to within a centimeter.
I’m told the flash comes first, then the roar. There’s a lump in my throat as Bob Seger sings in my head, “I saw the lightning, and waited on the thunder.” Then a blast rattles my chest cavity.
In an awe-inspiring moment, the rocket rises majestically and soars over the Pacific Ocean, reaching a top speed of 17,000 mph.
Here’s My Take:
For decades, rockets launched and ejected empty boosters (fuel cells) that fell back to Earth. SpaceX asked, “Why spend millions of dollars on something that ends up in the ocean? What if we made boosters that can be reused?”
Of course, SpaceX thrives on disruption. So, their engineering wizards imagined a plan to steer charred rocket boosters back to the landing pad. As seen here :
Precision only came after years of misfires and crash landings. But disrupters know that without failure, there’s no growth.
So, failure is not only an option, it’s necessary.